Thousands of Emperor penguin chicks in Antarctica “disappeared”overnight,drowned after ice shelf collapsed
- by Ramsha-Rizwan
- May 01, 2019 18:17
Thousands of emperor penguin babies are believed to have “wiped out” due to drowning when the ice shelf on which they are raised collapsed.Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS),Dr Peter Fretwell and Phil Trathan spotted the disappearance of the “Halley Bay colony” which was the breeding ground for emperor penguins through satellite imagery.
Emperor penguins have the second largest population of penguins across the globe.It is the heaviest and tallest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica The population, which constitutes 5-9 per cent of the global population was believed to have an average of 14,000 to 25,000 breeding pairs for several decades which seemed to have disappear overnight in 2016.The breeding pairs have showed no signs to re-establish the lost population in the last three years.
However,some nearby areas have showed signs of breeding but not enough.“The breeding pair population has increased significantly at a nearby location, but not enough.”said Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the BAS who wrote the study.Researchers have suggested “the species might lose between 50 and 70 per cent of its global population by the century’s end if the breeding habitat reduces at the estimated rates”
Dr Trathan told the BBC:
"What's interesting for me is not that colonies move or that we can have major breeding failures - we know that.It's that we are talking here about the deep embayment of the Weddell Sea, which is potentially one of the climate change refugia for those cold-adapted species like emperor penguins.And so if we see major disturbances in these refugia - where we haven't previously seen changes in 60 years - that's an important signal."
Scientists believe harsh climate changes and weather conditions to be the reason behind breaking of sea ice and fears an iceberg twice as size of new york city is to break and cause further damage in the region.In the year,2012 the emperor penguin species was moved from a species of “least concern” to “near threatened” species by the IUCN. In 2014 a study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution stated global warming the reason behind decline in population of emperor species.The study predicted that decline in all 45 colonies of emperor by significant number by 2100 mostly by loss of habitat.